The NHL season is three weeks old and the New York Rangers finally get to play in front of their home fans at Madison Square Garden. MSG as it is known, is in the process of a thee-year renovation project to give the facility a major overhaul. In a NHL player poll conducted at the All-Star Game last season, MSG was voted the second-worse ice surface in the league. Only the BankAtlantic Center had a worse result where 20 percent of players voted the home of the Florida Panthers as a worse ice surface compared to the 14 percent that voted for the Rangers’ barn.
The renovations won’t be completed for another two years but the construction work will be scheduled mostly during the summer when the Rangers and New York Knicks will not be playing. The New York Liberty of the WNBA played games this summer at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. In the seven games where they were on the road, the team went 3-2-2. They technically played one home game, when they opened the season in Sweden. Tonight’s game against opens a six-game home stand where they face teams from both the east and west coast.
The Rangers and Knicks both received renovated locker room facilities. The Rangers join a new line of teams in circular/oval shaped locker rooms. Most reams have rectangular rooms but after feedback from players, they had a desire for a more round-shaped room to encourage team unity and the feeling of togetherness.
When the project is complete in 2014, the most anticipated addition will be the upcoming Chase Bridges. to that list. The arena will feature literally two suspended seating areas that will extend from the less-obstructed 10th floor and go across to the other side. Each bridge will seat 500 fans, but it will not affect the overall capacity; it will remain the same as it is now (roughly 20,000). During Phase 1 of the renovation, there was up to 1,000 construction workers at the arena around the clock working. During the Rangers and Knicks season this year (if there is an NBA season), work will continue to occur hours after a game that same night.